Wednesday, June 25, 2003

City's law on pit bulls is a toothless Chihuahua

Peter Bronson

In "dog heaven," cats are as slow as possums on Prozac, shoes taste like forbidden chicken bones and newspapers that are never rolled up carry stories about dogs that chase cars and actually catch them: "14-Pound Jack Russell bags 2,800-pound Chrysler.''

I don't buy it. There can't be a "doggie heaven,'' because if all the dogs I have owned were there together, it would look more like dog hell.

When I was a kid we had a German shepherd that sniffed lines of ants like a coke-freak on a toot. He got so high he thought he could bring down a 1959 Buick at 35 mph. Just the pet to teach children the perils of drugs and running in the fast lane, but I was not paying attention. We blamed the car.

I had a Dalmatian that climbed trees to chase squirrels (true), and a Labrador that savagely attacked my pop-up lawn sprinklers.

The littlest dog I ever owned had the biggest heart. "Beanie" was the mutated offspring of a pair of trashy, incestuous poodles. She had short legs in front and long ones in back, stiff as crutches, giving her the look of a goose-stepping dragster. Her lower-jaw jutted out in a row of tiny teeth that looked the loader on a backhoe. We rescued her from certain death and she was grateful, loyal and fearless.

Which just goes to show that even an old dog can teach you some new tricks. Every dog is bred for a job. But we're also responsible for the sins of our pets.

And if there's a dog hell, the CEO is probably a pit bull.

"He just kept lurching at me and lurching at me," said Mary Chatman, describing to Cincinnati City Council how she was attacked by a pit bull while walking to work on June 17. "I used my entire can of Mace and he didn't even back off."

She was rescued by a man who stopped his car to help - and he was nearly attacked, too, until he hit the dog with his car door, she said.

Along with others who testified, Chatman begged council's Law and Public Safety Committee to "please, please, please do something before they kill somebody."

Owners insist pit bulls are as harmless as a Pekinese if they are trained right. But a bazooka is as harmless as a .22 if you don't pull the trigger. Pit bulls were bred to fight and kill other dogs. They don't need much encouragement to be vicious. And in recent years, irresponsible breeders have bred pit bulls that attack people as well.

Their jaws are strong enough to chew the chrome off a Cadillac - or crush a child's legs.

They are favored by drug thugs, who stage dog fights and sic their pit bulls on neighborhood cats and mild-mannered house pets that don't have a prayer.

"The reality of what's happening in our city is that I don't see too many drug dealers walking around with golden retrievers," said Councilman Pat DeWine. He proposed a ban on pit bulls to replace a hairless Chihuahua law that requires pit bulls to be registered and tattooed (true). Only five of the thousands in the city are registered, he said. Of 19 dogs shot by police in the past year, seven were pit bulls.

If there is a dog heaven, you can bet pit bulls are banned there by unanimous vote of all the other dogs. We should do the same - and then tie tin cans to the tails of the two-legged mutts who raise vicious dogs, and run them out of town, too.

E-mail or call 768-8301.

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